Title

The Erie County Poorhouse (1828-1926) as a Heterotopia: A Bioarchaeological Perspective

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date

8-28-2020

Publication Title

The Bioarchaeology of Structural Violence: A Theoretical Framework for Industrial Era Inequality

Publisher

Springer

Edition

1

First page number:

111

Last page number:

137

Abstract

Employing Galtung’s concepts of cultural and structural violence and Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, we argue that the Erie County Poorhouse (ECPH), in industrial-era Buffalo, New York, served to intensify marginalization of societal Others. Mid- to late-nineteenth century American poorhouses may be understood as “heterotopias.” Foucault described heterotopias as real places that are like societal counter-sites and identified two main types: “crisis heterotopias” and “heterotopias of deviation.” Society’s definitions of crisis and deviance were shaped by contemporary cultural violences, in particular ideas about impairment and disability. Through diachronic analyses of the historical, skeletal, and archaeological records, we focus on the enactment of cultural and structural violences in the ECPH heterotopia. We conclude the ECPH did not simply transition from a heterotopia of crisis to a heterotopia of deviation. Instead, the ECPH functioned as a heterotopia of crisis and/or deviation for a person depending on their socially ascribed identities, simultaneously isolating Others in crisis, deviant Others, and those who were considered both in crisis and deviant.

Keywords

Galtung's concepts of cultural and structural violence; Foucault's concept of heterotopia; Erie County Poorhouse; ECPH; Industrial era; Buffalo city; Societal Others; Bioarcheological perspective

Disciplines

Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Language

English

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